|Note*||Frederick Bish Written by Frederick V. Schultz|
Frederick, the maternal grandfather of Thomas Grim, Jr., was born in Strassburg , France in July of 1758. Strassburg was then a city of strategic military importance in Europe. This heavily fortified city was also renown for a less martial pursuit - its celebrated pate de foie gras. AT that time of the Fredericks birth, Strassburg, with its largely German speaking population, had been under the thumb of the French since 1689. In that year Louis XIV, the Sun King, had sent his armies to occupy the city for the greater glory of France. 1764 Frederick Bish, only six, left with his father, Dewalt Bish, for America, possibly Pennsylvania. The family spoke only German and even Frederick's school age children, a half-century later, were teased for their broken English. This would seem to indicate the Bishes settled in an enclave of other Germans.Perhaps the Bishes were members of the Dunkards or Meennonites, German religious sects that colonized various portions of the Shenandoah Valley.
In 1778 Frederick subsituted for three months as a soldier and listed his home as Rockingham County, Virginia which would later become Shenandoah County The Bishes dwelled in the northern part of the Shenandoah Valley along the spine of the Alleghenies. The Germans there founded a city named after the Bish's European home of Strasbourg. Like Frederick, the citizens of this area were mostly German but there were also many Scotch-Irish. Starting in the early 1750 both immigrant groups came down from Pennsylvania and Maryland, drawn by the broad, fertile sweep of the Valley. The Germans migrated and settled in allied family groups because of the language and cultural barriers. Many had originally been lured to the Pennsylvania frontier by the promise of cheap land and religious freedomm. In return, the proprietors of the colony got a buffer zone against incursions form the Indians. The Germans, being no fools, soon realized that the Shenandoah Valley was relatively safer, had better conditions and was a good deal closer to civilization. This is a likely scenario for the Bishes who probly follwed the migratory path laid down by the Old Philadelphia Wagon Road, which turned south into the Valley near Hagerstown, Maryland. These early pioneers were isolated geograhically, as well as culturally, from the rest of the Commonwealth of Virginia. This disconnection encouaged them to rely on the traditions of the Europe to see them through. Thes early natives of the Shenandah brought Old World superstitious with them believing in hexes and special incatations. The Valleys families were strongly oligarchic and the women were expected to serve and soothe their men. Witches, often independent and strong willed women, were feared in the Vally and witch doctors were sought to counter their spells. Grannies and herb doctors, even wart doctors, also ministered to the needs of the Shenandoah natives. Their lives were regulated by the seasons but religion was also central to their spiritual health with Mennonites, Quakers and Dunkards being importat religious groups. The love of a good story was ingrained in these folk who lived between Alleghenies and Blue Ridge and in the hollows and coves of the mountains.
During the American Revolution, Frederick Bish left the Vally to served hitches in four differnt Virginia companies of infantry, the first three times as a substitute. In 1778 a Rockingham County gentleman by the name of Leonard Downy was drafted for three months service in the Virginia forces. He paid teenage Frederick to substitute for him. So as Frederick approached his 20th birthday, he found himself taking part in the battle of Monmouth with Captain John Crookshank Company of John Browns Virginia Regiment. Bish was one of 10,000 troops with Washington on that hot, sultry June 28th when the battle was contested. Washingtion had determined to harass Sir Henry Clintons column of 8,00 troops as they marched to New york after abandoning Philadelphia. As the British were lleaving camp at Monmouth Cour House, New Jersey, General Charles Lee attacked their rear guard with half of the American force. Lee was flanked and retreated in confusion till he encountered General Washingtons main body three miles away. With his cover blown, a furious Washington rallied the troops and set up defensive positions. What was never meant to be a general action wound up involving the main elements of both armies. Nothing decisive came of the battle and the British continued safely to the security of New York. However, Frederick was evidently so impressed by his commander in chief on that day that he would eventually name two of his children George Washington Bish, the family knew one as George and the other as Washington. Both lived to a ripe old age.
Laterin 1778, after taking part in the battle of Monmouth, Frederick Bish substituted for Samuel Rodeheffer with Ridifords regiment and returned to the sea he had crossed as a boy. Frederick helped defend the ports around Hampton Roads, Virginia, serving in Norfolk. Norfolk, Hampton and Portsmouth formed a colonial maritime and commercial Hub and so drew British attention very early in the war. The redcoats savaged the area several times. The first time was when Lord Dunmore burned Norfolk in 1776. Later, the turncoat Benedict Arnold stopped in the area on his way to capture Richomnd. Finally Lord Comwell landed his army near Hampton Roads and established a firm position on the York Peninsula. Sir Henry Clinton was still in New York in 1781 when his French counterpart, General Comte de Rochambeau, Dissuaded General Washington from attacking the city. From Virginia, Lafayette had sent word that Cornwallis was fortifying a camp near the York River. Leaving a rup force to fool Clinton, Washingtons and Rochambeau's Fanco-American force sped South. Their plan was to seal off Cornwallis and his 7,500 Hessian and British troops with the help of Comte de Grasse fleet. The plan worked beautifully. DeGrasse defeated the British Fleet of Admiral Graves and thus sealed off the entire bay. On September 28th, Washington and Rochambeaus army combined forces with Lafayette and 3,000 of DeGrasses men and lay siege to Cornwallis camp.
Fredrick Bish again served as a substitute for a richer man, one Mathias Sharing. It would seem that Fredricks capital in those days was his courage. He served with Captain Welch Company of Browns Virginia Regiment and his comrades and he were on the American right on the Hampton Road, south to southwest of York. They were adjacent to Lafayettes command. Incessant bombardment, eminent starvation and a failed counteratattack compeled Cornwallis to surrender almost three weeks later. On the morning of October 18, Frederick crawled slowly to the top of his parapet, felt the warming sun of the soft Virginia autumn and gawked at the strangely silent British positions. He must have marveled at how, only a few moments before the cease-fire, the place where he now stood would have meant his certain death. Early the next day, Frederick heard the tidings that Washington had accepted Cornwallis surrender. By noon that day, Frederick was striding into formation on the east side of the Yorktown Road with the rest of the Virginians. Bish watched in awe as the sullen British marched from their positions to face the double line of Americans along the road. As their band played The World Turned Upside Down, the scarlet-coated troopers stacked their arms and marched back to British lines. It was the last battle of the American Revolution, but at the time nobody understood that. Burgoyne and Corwallis had surrendered but there were still major British armies around Charleston and New York. It now became a matter of politics, snarled and tangled, and for two years closure seemed a long time away. In this atmospher of uncertainty, Frederick re-enlisted and soliered till peace was officially declared in late 1783 and the British army and navy finally left Manhattan. This time he enlisted in his own right; he did not substitute
Frederick last service in the American Revolution was with Captain Kelly Company of Bowman Virginia Regiment. During his war years, especially on that fateful day at Yorktown, Frederick laid eyes upon many of the legends of our Revolution - General Washington, the marquise de Lafayette, Antony Wayne, General vonSteuben, to name but a few. As a veteran at Yorktown, he had participated in a unique experience in history of the world. With his veteran status, he would one day reap the rewards of cheap land and standing as a freeholder. These were realities that his ancestors in Germany could only have dreamed about.
For the half century that followed the American Revolution, Frederick Bish remained in Virginia. In 1811 his first wife gave birth to Eva, who would one day marry Thomas Grim, Sr. According to family tradition, Frederick, well into middle age, fought in the War of 1812 and eventually took up the trade of shoemaking. We find Bish, for a time, near Charlestown, Kanawho County, Virginia . Some time before November of 1832, Frederick, in his seventies, migrated from Virginia to Jackson Township in Greene County, Pennsylvania. Bish was living there in 1833 when he applied for a U.S government pension for his services in the Revolution. In the late 1830's, he moved to southwestern Ohio and Sinking Spring, Highland County. His sons George Washington Bish, Andrew Jackson Bish and Abraham Bish also settle in Highland, wher ther father died in 1839.
Frederick Bish's first wife, whose name is unknown, bore him ten children. In 1818, followin his first wife's death, he married Barbara Weatherholtz, the daughter of Jacob Weatherholtz. The wedding occurred in Shenandoah County, Virgina. Barbara, much younger than Frederick, also bore him ten children, the last in 1835 when the old veteran would have been about seventy-seven. Three of Fredericks sons, according to his great grandson Joseph Abraham Bish, were Captains in the Civil War. Another son, Abraham Bish, migrated west to Missouri with his family in 1854. To escape that state's bloody pre-war conflicts, they moved on to Iowa in December of 1859. In 1864 they trekked by covered wagon across the plains to the Sonoma redwoods of California. Finally, Abraham and his family settle in Oregon.